Hotel in San Francisco, August 2010

Mar 4th, 2010, 11:33 PM
  #1  
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Hotel in San Francisco, August 2010

Hi Fodorites,

We will be in San Francisco for 4 nights, arriving August 4, leaving August 8 back home.
Is there anyone with good info on 3 star hotels in San Francisco, the different neighbourhoods to be or not to be, evening security in general?
Thanks for all the help!
Have a nice day.
Paul
baldrick is offline  
Mar 5th, 2010, 06:16 AM
  #2  
 
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re-post of something earlier.

San Francisco Hotel Locations

It seems that about once every week, there is a discussion about “where to stay” while visiting San Francisco – especially for first timers. Most people ask about either the Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Embarcadero, or the Marina hotel areas. Here are some thoughts, with a little of my bias thrown in:

1. Union Square - This is downtown’s fashionable shopping/dining/hotel area. The “Grand” hotels are here, and a few blocks north on Nob Hill (very steep to walk there, however). The big department stores are close by, along with many smaller shops and “boutique” hotels. It is also next to the theater district. Perhaps our most “elegant” restaurants are in this area (Fleur de Lys, Farallon, Masa’s, Ritz Carlton, Michael Minna, etc). There are fewer “simple”, “Mom-n-Pop”, or ethnic restaurants than you will find in other parts of the City – except a little west in the Tenderloin, which might scare a few first timers at night. The Cable Cars run by Union Square, so you can get to the Wharf area quickly. You can get off the Hyde St C.C. line at Union St for a walk downhill to Union St/Chestnut St (Cow Hollow/Marina). The major drawback is it’s proximity to the gritty Tenderloin, which is immediately west & south of Union Square. I don’t know if crime rates are higher, but you will feel a little more threatened than you will in the other three districts I’ll describe. There are many high-rise buildings, so there’s a little less sunlight than you will find elsewhere. Union Sq. is perhaps not as “family oriented” as the other hotel areas. It gets more business travelers, and people who want a little more “luxury” in their hotel. Union Square is a bit “dead” on Sundays, and not as lively as the other places in the evening. I don’t enjoy strolling after dinner in this area as much as I do on Union St/Chestnut St. If you have a car, you will regret it. Parking is very expensive ($50 per night or so), and driving is difficult.

2. Fisherman’s Wharf. The Wharf is mostly inhabited by tourists. Plenty of souvenir shops selling T-shirts & other things to remind you of your visit to SF. Local entertainment includes a wax museum, Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not, and now a Hooters – things kids might enjoy (except for the Hooters). You won’t find many locals in this area (and if you did – they wouldn’t admit it). Most restaurants are tourist oriented, and most locals feel they are mediocre at best. Good proximity to the Cable Cars, which is a plus. Nice views out into the Bay. It’s also within walking distance of North Beach, which should be on everyone’s agenda for at least one Italian dinner and “people watching” evening. With the Cable Cars, it’s quick to get downtown, but you might have to wait in line for 30 mins or so at peak times. It’s about a 30 min walk to the Union St/Chestnut St areas (see 4th option for description). The Wharf is a perfectly safe area (from crime, vagrants, etc). Hotels usually charge $25-$40 per day for parking. Lively (with tourists) every day. If you want to stay in a typical non-San Francisco environment, this is a good choice

3. The Embarcadero This area is directly on the waterfront at the “foot” of Market St. It’s on the eastern edge of the Financial District – so it’s quite active on work days. This area is great for public transportation because the cable car, Muni Metro, normal Muni, and BART are close by. The Ferry building is located here, so it’s great for taking the ferry to various locations around the bay. There is a Farmers Market on Saturdays & Tuesdays at the Ferry Building, and food stalls & restaurants inside the Ferry Bldg which are open every day. It is an easy walk or public transportation to the other hotel areas - except a little difficult for the Marina & Union St. If you like to be near the water & out of the touristy Fisherman’s Wharf area, then this would be a great choice. Lots of restaurants in this area. If you like to take long walks or jog, the Embarcadero is perfectly flat, so it is great for a morning or evening walk/stroll/jog.

4. Marina. There are many motels along Lombard St, which are (in general) cheaper and much more simple than the ones you will find in the other districts. The main advantage to this area, in my opinion, is that it has more typical SF “flavor” than the other spots. Lombard St is one block from Chestnut St, and three blocks from Union St. Both these streets are loaded with boutiques, restaurants, and buildings with unique architecture (Victorians on Union, Art Deco on Chestnut). When we first moved to San Francisco almost 35 years ago, I remember a poster that said “If you left your heart in San Francisco, you will probably find it on Union St”. This is a residential area and you will find many locals doing their daily “stuff.” On a Sunday morning (especially if it’s sunny) you will see many folks going to the exercise studio, having breakfast at one of the many outdoor café’s, and standing on the street with their “lattes” and chatting with friends. There are no “elegant” restaurants in this area, but many of the type that locals enjoy (Isa, Betelnut, Balboa Café, A16). This is a good area for strolling during the day, before dinner, and after dinner – it is quite lively, especially on weekends. It’s about a 30 min walk to the Wharf, where you can catch a Cable Car (or walk up Union St to catch the CC). East of the Union St shopping area, (just past Van Ness) is Polk St, where there are more nice shops & restaurants. Also on Polk St is La Folie, which is one of my favorite restaurants (if someone else is buying) and also one of the highest “rated” in the City. This is a perfectly safe area. One of it’s best advantages, is that you can park a car free at many of the Motels. Also, it is an easy area to drive in (although there are steep hills just south), and it’s a quick trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to my favorite view in all the Bay Area (GGNRA, just north and to the west of the Bridge).

Stu Dudley
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Mar 6th, 2010, 03:56 AM
  #3  
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Thanks Stu, exactly the info I was looking for!
We are a party of six; a couple of friends without kids and my wife and I with our 2 kids, 14 and 12.
We will be in SF at the end of our 3 week trip. We arrive with a car on the 4th but can keep it till the 6th if the reservation is confirmed. However, we don't mind using public transport and are fully aware that a car is a nuisance in town, not to mention the parking fees...
I am interested in the Embarcadero and Marina. Embarcadero for the public transport, the waterfront and all the activity around the Ferry. Marina for soaking up the SF-normal life. A hotel here would be suitable for keeping the car to have a drive north of the bridge.
Both areas are OK to escape from tourist restaurants, which is also a mayor concern.
We're also fond of Japanese and Chines kitchen. Anything you can recommend?
30 minute walks are no problem, very often we take a taxi to the first destination and then walk our way back the entire day.

Feel free to add more info!
Thanks a lot!
Paul
baldrick is offline  
Mar 6th, 2010, 04:07 AM
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Hi Stu

I just found your SF recommendations posting and copied it. A mine of informations!!! Thanks a lot.
baldrick is offline  
Mar 6th, 2010, 06:39 AM
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Embarcadero area:
- Slanted Door - Vietnamese in the Ferry Bldg. One of our most popular restaurants. Reserve early

- R&B Lounge - Chinese. Very nice

- Butterfly - Asian fusian - on the waterfront. Last time we were there, the food seemed to have "slipped" a bit.

- Yank Sing - Chinese dim sum. an "institution"

Marina area

- Betelnut - Pan-Asian. Fun place. Always crowded - reserve ahead. on Union st. Don't miss if you stay in the Marina area

- Isa - French/Asian - just off Lombard. One of our favorites. Has outside dining for larger groups.

- Osha Thai - on Union st. Have not dined here myself, but was written up in the local paper reently

Our favorite Japanese place (Hime) in the Marina closed recently

Other favorites
- Perbacco - Embarcadero area. Italian - very good. Reserve early
- Gitane - Financial district. French/Calif. In an alley. We've dined here several times. May not be suited for you kids - small.

We're dining at a Spanish tapas place on Lombard St tonight. Will report back tomorrow.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 6th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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Just because I haven't eaten there before (until last night), and because you want to be in a "real" SF neighborhood, I will mention 1300 on Fillmore (first recommended to me on here, although I live in the Bay Area and work in SF). Southern food, really really well done, and great-looking space. Noisy, but not so noisy that we couldn't hold a 4-person conversation. Since you mention Japanese food, though, Yoshi's restaurant is excellent Japanese (next door to 1300 on Fillmore). Both were "hopping" last night.

Oh, and if you decide to go to R&G Lounge, you might want to make a reservation. You can walk in, but there is often a long wait.
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2010, 09:20 AM
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sf

I "think" he wanted recs for restaurants within a 30 min walk from either the Embarcadero or Marina.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 7th, 2010, 12:03 AM
  #8  
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Many thanks, Stu. I have to get some map from San Francisco to get the general picture of our 4 days in SFO. Don't know if we'll find this item over here (Switzerland).
Have a nice day.
baldrick is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 02:15 AM
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Last year I found a good deal at Hotel Stratford, close to Union Street. Not bad, centrally located might be a little noisy if the room is on Powell St because of the cable-car.
ecoli70 is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 04:23 AM
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You might want to look at Cow Hollow Suites in the heart of the Marina area. It offers free, secure parking with locked elevator access up to your apartment and free wifi, etc.
These are full, spacious, nicely decorated apartments -- up to two bedrooms and two baths. You could even have a two bedroom, two bath and your friends have a one bedroom, and the larger apartment would even have dining space for you all to have breakfast (or other meals together).

You walk out your front door to all the shops and restaurants of Chestnut, and the bus taking you to Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, Chinatown, and downtown is less than a block away if you want to leave your car.

The rates are simply amazing for what's included and how nice it is.
This is not to be confused with the "sister" Cow Hollow Motor Inn, not of such a high scale, which only shares a check-in desk and the large underground garage.
http://www.cowhollowsuites.com/
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 7th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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Excellent analysis of SF locations, StuDudley! Fodor's editors, take heed. Stu should be a staff writer.
Janeyre is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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So true! A wealth of SF information, without prejudices!
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 7th, 2010, 08:01 AM
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As always, great info from Stu!
Ronda is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 08:10 AM
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>>without prejudices!<<

I am prejudice against the Wharf - but don't let razzledazzle know.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 7th, 2010, 09:44 AM
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I took my two children (10 & 15) last summer about the same time in August. We did rent a car because we were planning to drive along the coast and to Lake Tahoe too (which was beautiful). We stayed at the JW just up from Union Station and it was perfect. I know you are thinking super expensive, but I got a deal on the Marriott website that was actually cheaper than their hotel by the wharf... and it included parking. So important! The parking was $60 a night plus taxes so it made a big difference!!! The staff was great and it seemed convenient to us because we had the car. I do not know if they have these packages available now but it worked well. I agree with StuDudley on the activity after dark.It was just me with the kids so I was not comfortable touring around too much at night. One evening we took a taxi to a great restaurant. It was better than driving. Personally I would not want to stay on the Wharf. I know others have said it before but It is really, really touristy. We did not even want to stay during he day. I cannot imagine being their at night. There are so many beautiful areas of SF that it would be a shame to stay here. We went there the day we took the harbor tour not the Alcatraz tour that you get out on the island. The harbor tour circled it three times and we got a lot of stories while it was circling. The day we were there the wind was blowing about 30 knots and it was freezing. It was nice to sit inside and hear the stories. and have a hot chocolate! I enjoyed going under the GG by boat too. II think it was a better tour than getting off anyway. It is just me. It worked out really well for us.
txbluesky is offline  
Mar 7th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Stu, so funny. I >almost< mentioned that single prejudice you have.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 7th, 2010, 02:07 PM
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Union Station = Union Square

Union Street = in this case also means Union Square (since it refers to Powell St., which is nowhere near Union Street).
sf7307 is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 10:49 AM
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Thanks for all the info. I was away for some days without internet access, hence the delay.

Question for everyone.
According to Stu's advice, we are opting for the Marina district, trying to be close to Van Ness and Lombard.
I choose the Francisco Bay Inn, the Buena Vista Motor Inn, the Marina Inn hotel and the Comfort Inn by the Bay and struggled my way through the comments on Tripadvisor.

The more I read, the more I get confused... at some time in these comments, most off them have rude staff, a ridiculous breakfast, paper walls, bed bugs,roaches and mold, and some have it all combined...
Anyone with any personal experience in one of these motels?

Or are we wrong in suggesting that the 2-3star motels in that area are OK? Should we go to a classic 4-star hotel?
Money is not directly the issue, but if we can find a decent motel with well insulated walls, a normal breakfast and friendly staff, guaranteeing 4 final days of what we hope to be a memorable holiday, we would not hesitate to go for it...
Am I too optimistic to find that gem?

Many thanks!
baldrick is offline  
Mar 13th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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I repeat, go much more first class and still make it a bargain. Check out Cow Hollow Suites. I do see some of the things you mention being issues at the other hotels you mentioned (and at Cow Hollow Motor Inn as well) but NOT at Cow Hollow Suites.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 14th, 2010, 09:07 AM
  #20  
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Neo Patrick,

I have tried to get rooms there, but nothing available for a family of 4 anymore...
baldrick is offline  
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